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Suffering From Adult Acne? Here's What To Do

By Simone Sydel··  9 min read
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Suffering From Adult Acne? Here's What To Do

Acne sounds like a puberty thing that's a distant past for some. But for many others, it's a daily annoyance that still occurs well into adulthood.

Adult acne is a thing, unfortunately. And it can be caused by many factors, including makeup, unsuitable skincare products, hormonal imbalances, and some medications like birth control.

However, you’re not without options, and in this article, I will tell you exactly how to manage this annoying inflammatory condition.

So, if you’ve been dealing with an onset of adult acne, here's what to do:

Cleanse Your Skin Twice a Day

Acne is an inflammatory condition that's most often triggered by excess oil that clogs the pores and allows bacteria to thrive in the airless environment. This is why you need to regularly cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser that won't strip your moisture barrier and compromise its ability to function optimally.

Acne is an inflammatory condition caused by excess oil clogging your pores.

While the logical thing to do seems to be to grab a bar of soap and dry out the oil, this actually isn't the best action plan long-term. This will only trigger the skin to react by producing more and more oil to lubricate and protect itself from dryness. And more oil = more clogging and more acne.

Therefore, using a gentle, hydrating cleanser is a better way to go as this will help bring balance instead of overdrying the skin. 

Product To Try: La Roche Posay Toleriane Purifying Face Wash. This is one of the best affordable cleansers for oily and acne-prone skin that won't make you feel dehydrated and irritated. It contains barrier-strengthening ingredients such as ceramides and niacinamide, as well as hydrating glycerin and propanediol.

Exfoliate with Targeted Actives

As I already mentioned above, acne is an inflammatory condition that starts as a clogged pore, which is why you need something to dissolve the clog and clear the pore from the inside out.

An excellent oil-dissolving agent is salicylic acid, which is also referred to as beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). While the type used in skincare products is synthetically made, salicylic acid is a naturally occurring substance or hormone produced by plants as a defense mechanism against environmental and pathogenic stress.

Salicylic acid can make a world of difference to the skin, and this wonderful ingredient is mostly used in products intended for oily and problematic skin types because it has the ability to:

  • soothe inflammation on the skin

  • cut through the surface oil and deeply cleanse congested pores

  • clear acne-breakouts

  • dissolve blackheads

  • soothe deeply inflamed cysts

Product To Try: Paula's Choice CLEAR Anti-Redness Solution. This is one of my absolute favorite products for blackheads and pustules, as well as deeper acne. It contains 2% salicylic acid as well as a combination of hydrating ingredients that will clear out the pores, soothe inflammation, and hydrate the skin.

Incorporate Targeted Treatments into Your Routine

If your acne is moderate to severe, you may need something stronger and more targeted than salicylic acid, and fortunately, you have quite a few options to choose from.

First on the list is benzoyl peroxide, which is an over-the-counter antibacterial agent. It works by infusing the pores with oxygen and destroying the airless environment bacteria need to thrive. It can also be used as a spot treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide infuses the pores with oxygen, destroying the airless environment bacteria need to thrive.

Next, you can look into over-the-counter retinoids such as adapalene (goes by the brand name Differin), which is stronger than benzoyl peroxide and works by speeding up cellular turnover to rapidly shed the dead skin cells that are stuck inside the pore and cause clogging.

And lastly, you can look into an even stronger option, which is a prescription-strength retinoid such as tretinoin or tazarotene. These retinoids also work on a cellular level but are much stronger than adapalene. Unfortunately, they come with a few initial side effects, including dryness, peeling, irritation, and sensitivity. They also can't be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding due to the rapid cellular turnover they cause.

Use a Hydrating Serum

Acne-treatments can definitely be drying to some degree, which is why compensating with a hydrating serum should be something to consider. Look into a simple option that contains ingredients for your particular skin needs, depending on how your skin reacts to the treatments you’re using.

If your skin is getting irritated and is becoming sensitive, you should look into a hydrating and nourishing serum that contains soothing ingredients such as Centella Asiatica, green tea extract, or chamomile extract.

If your skin feels dry and dehydrated, but it's not becoming sensitive, look into something even simpler such as a hydrating serum that contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Always use your hydrating serums on damp skin and follow them up with a moisturizer to keep the hydration and other beneficial ingredients in the skin.

Always Use Sunscreen in the Morning

I already mentioned how using sunscreen is crucial when dealing with acne in my article on skincare habits that can ruin your skin.

First and most importantly, using sunscreen while helping your acne heal will prevent the lesions from becoming more inflamed and leave discolored scars such as redness and hyperpigmentation once they're gone.

Some acne treatments like prescription retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

Next, as I already mentioned above, some acne treatments (especially prescription retinoids) can make the skin more sensitive in the beginning stage and affect its ability to deal with UV damage. This will increase your chances of experiencing sunburns as well as hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and more inflammation.

Lastly, most mineral sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide, which is an exceptionally useful mineral for soothing inflammation and can further help with acne. 

Mind Your Diet

Getting nutrition into your body can really help you heal from the inside out. And while there isn't any conclusive evidence that clearly shows diet can help cure acne, many people have actually cleared up their acne by making a few tweaks in their diet.

Minding your diet and eating healthy and nutritious foods can help improve your acne as well as other inflammatory conditions such as eczema, and many people (myself included) can swear on it. Improving my diet has been the best thing I’ve done for myself, and I’m here to say everyone should make an effort to do that.

My diet consisted of low-nutritious foods such as McDonald’s, Burger King, pizzas, fried foods, processed foods, and all the bad stuff. But this changed when I started learning how to cook and prepare veggies in different ways and with different spices and herbs that added so much flavor to the blandness. Today, I’m enjoying a full plate of various foods, and I’ve never felt healthier.

The overall quality of my life — including my skin, mood, energy, and focus — improved drastically.

Also, the overall quality of my life — including my skin, mood, energy, and focus — improved drastically since I started incorporating nutritious and antioxidant foods into my diet. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy junk food every now and then. In fact, I don’t stray from treating myself to a mouth-watering burger from Burger King or McDonald’s once every few weeks.

This is also an important thing to consider because the goal is not to be harsh on yourself and force yourself to eat healthily, or else. The goal is to make tweaks and changes that will improve your lifestyle, not punish yourself by strictly eating certain types of food because you think it will help clear your skin.

Supplement Wisely

Supplements won't solve all your skin issues, but they can help if used under the right circumstances. This is why I say you should "supplement wisely," instead of taking supplements blindly and expecting them to do miracles. (Hint: they won't do that.) That said, supplements can help with inflammatory conditions such as acne when used as a complementary addition to a nourishing diet and a good skincare routine.

Omega-3 and zinc have repeatedly shown promising results in reducing the severity of acne.

Omega-3 and zinc are two supplements that have repeatedly shown promising results in reducing the severity of acne after only several weeks of taking them. Here’s a study that shows how both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions decreased significantly in 45 participants who took omega-3 supplements for 10 weeks.

On the other hand, zinc is a mineral with profound anti-inflammatory and wound-healing capacities and can even help decrease the oxidative stress in burned skin tissue, so having it in your arsenal when battling acne will definitely help you achieve great results.

Look into Professional Treatments

If you haven't already, you should definitely look into professional treatments such as chemical peels, as these can help you get rid of moderate to severe acne after only one or two sessions.

Chemical peels are essentially a solution that consists of a special blend of hydroxy acids. These acids work at a very low pH (much lower than over-the-counter products) to remove layers and layers of dead skin cells that are causing clogging and congestion.

Once applied to the skin, a process known as frosting will start occurring after a couple of minutes, and this is when parts of your skin will turn white and eventually shed for a few days after the treatment. A few days after the chemical peel, your skin will feel raw as it starts to darken and shed, slowly revealing a regenerated layer of new skin that’s smooth, bright, and glowing.

Chemical peels remove layers and layers of dead skin cells that are causing clogging and congestion.

Chemical peels are also treatments you can do once or twice a year (preferably during winter time) to maintain healthy and glowing skin.

Seeing an esthetician and communicating your concerns can help you eliminate skin issues without having to figure it out on your own and potentially make many mistakes along the way. An esthetician will also recommend a tailored skincare routine for your particular needs to help you maintain the excellent results achieved from the professional treatment. 

And, when you think about it, doing this will undoubtedly save you money and help you maintain healthy and clear skin in the long-term, instead of playing guessing games and experimenting with products that may or may not work (but most frequently, they don’t).

Closing Thoughts

While acne can be an incredibly annoying and stubborn condition to deal with, you’re not without options. A word of advice is to consider tackling this inflammatory occurrence early on because the possibility of permanent scarring increases the longer you wait.

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